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Helping to build landmark Western Cape school

by Tania Wannenburg
Helping to build landmark

Christie van Niekerk, Corobrik manager for the Western Cape, said  Bongolethu Primary School had proved a landmark project not just for the 1 300 children who are currently enrolled there, but also for pupils across the province who would benefit from the many lessons learnt and milestones that were reached during its construction.

 

Corobrik and the architectural team from Revel Fox & Partners Architects & Planners, who designed Bongolethu Primary School in Philippi in Cape Town, agree on one thing – using the simplest means to best advantage, combined with a rigorous concern for order, harmony and proportion, can bring a significant measure of stature and grace to even the most modest architectural endeavours.

Christie van Niekerk, Corobrik manager for the Western Cape, said Bongolethu Primary School had proved a landmark project not just for the 1 300 children who are currently enrolled there, but also for pupils across the province who would benefit from the many lessons learnt and milestones that were reached during its construction.

Revel Fox & Partners spokesperson, Mark Meyer, explained that the design of Bongolethu Primary School is the latest in an ongoing attempt to develop a consistent conceptual model for new schools in the Western Cape. In addition to speeding up delivery and conforming to a standard brief and strict budget, this standard model addressed the similar contexts and challenges faced by most children in the area. These include the harsh climatic conditions in the Cape Flats and social ills associated with the informal settlements from which many of the pupils come.

The new school replaced an ad-hoc collection of flood-prone classrooms and prefabs.  According to Kobus Stofberg, specialist architect for the Western Cape Directorate of Education Works, it has become a landmark in the area.

“We are committed to providing essential education services to the community based on research into relevant design requirements related to user needs. The final product exemplifies how we see primary school design for current and future projects. The school has had an extremely positive response from the users and community. It is a landmark building and not only upgrades the surrounding area, but also provides a much-needed oasis for young children to start and enjoy formal education,” he said.

Meyer said a self-critical review of the work at previously completed schools proved to be fruitful when designing Bongolethu Primary School.

“The school comprises a central focal element flanked on either side by cloistered courtyards. The central building addresses the street and contains the main entrance, the assembly hall, administration, staffroom, media and computer centres, as well as other shared facilities. It is independently accessible for community use.”

For cost reasons, the structural system and formal language was kept rigorously simple. Sustainability issues were addressed with the emphasis being on providing ample natural lighting and cross-ventilation.

Finishes are limited to affordable, low maintenance materials – red Kirstenbosch Travetine face-brick and painted bagged brick externally, plaster and paint internally, vinyl and power-floated floors, aluminium windows, unpainted galvanised metalwork and sheet metal roofing.

Detailing, although robust and straightforward, was nevertheless intended to add interest and texture. This included the use of Corobrik Firelight Satin face-bricks as accent bands and edging and painted bagged brickwork above face-bricks that either terminated at 900mm or 2 100mm.

Meyer confirmed that the selection of Corobrik products hinged on the fact that they are hardwearing and required little maintenance, but still had aesthetic appeal.

Van Niekerk added that the use of face- and clay-brick went far beyond aesthetic value. “Positive characteristics include affordability, longevity, structural strength, flexibility in design and application, natural sound-proofing qualities, incombustibility, natural resistance to fire, solidity and security. The enduring natural earthy colours and textures of clay face-brick walls significantly reduce maintenance costs.”

However, Van Niekerk said the most important attribute of clay-brick was its good thermal performance. Scientific research has demonstrated that clay-brick structures are warm in winter and cool in summer and, as a result, cut energy usage substantially.

Corobrik                                                                                                                   

Tel: 031 560-3111
Email: intmktg@corobrik.co.za

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